One potential starting point for a mobile strategy is the development of a mobile website. Mobile sites are designed for the smaller screen with the needs of mobile users in mind. Users expect their mobile experience to be as good, if not better than, their desktop experience.
Mobile website options
There are a number of options in developing a mobile site. You can simply optimize your current site for the mobile screen or you can develop something new specifically designed with mobile in mind. If you choose the former, you can work with an advertising agency, web design firm or mobile web design firm and in all likelihood, they’ll use responsive design to restructure your desktop website based on the resolution (or size) of the screen that’s viewing it. In other words, your website will display differently for different screen sizes.
For example, if someone is viewing your website from a regular desktop, they’ll get a larger and wider visual experience. If someone is viewing your website from a tablet, they may get a slightly different visual experience. And if someone is viewing your website from a smartphone, they’ll get another visual experience. Consumers are increasingly expecting marketers to present the best view for the channel they are in.
If you’ve designed your own website, you can, as a starting point, install a line of sniffer code at the top of your site that redirects people to pages on your site that have been modified to fit on a mobile screen.
If you’re not interested in either of these options, and wish to design for mobile first, there are a number of excellent mobile website design firms – many of which are listed on the Mobile Marketing Association website.
User-friendly design elements
Here are six mobile website design tips for a positive user experience:
1. Be Thumb-Friendly: Many visitors to your mobile site will be navigating through it with their thumbs or fingers. Large, easy-to-press links and buttons ensure the user experience starts off right.
2. Streamline Navigation: Your site should have the fewest number of links and pages possible. In general, mobile visitors aren’t interested in detailed bios, mission statements or press releases. Instead, they want key information like location, contact information and click-to-call buttons.
3. Minimize Graphics: You are designing your site for a mobile visitor who is using up valuable bandwidth to access your site. With that in mind, be sure you keep graphics small and to a minimum to allow for faster load time.
4. Honor Your Brand: Your mobile site should have the same branding elements as your desktop site. Ideally, a user will feel as though your mobile site is a continuation of your desktop site. It may not have all the same content, but the look and feel should be very similar.
5. Include a Link to the Desktop Site: Some visitors will be interested in viewing your desktop site, even though they’re on a mobile device. It’s always a good idea to provide them a link to the full site so they can easily visit that, too.
6. Test Your Site: There are a number of good ways to test the functionality of your mobile website. Do a search for mobile website emulator and you’ll find plenty of them. Be sure to test using more than one emulator since different emulators will provide different suggestions on improving the site.
Encouraging consumer engagement
Creating a mobile website is only half the battle. The next step is to encourage people to visit your site from their mobile device. There are a number of ways to do this, including placing a reminder that you have a mobile site on your desktop site. This can come in the form of a banner ad, a graphic or simply a blog post announcing the launch of your mobile site.
You can also use mobile technology such as a response code to drive people to your mobile site. The response code can be placed on your desktop site or on point-of-purchase materials as well as print and other marketing.
Whether you use a response code to drive visitors to your site or simply provide a URL, the key is to reward them once they’re at your site. After all, the mobile visitor is typically en-route, so you want to give them every reason possible to stay engaged with your site and, when relevant, visit your location.
Designing a mobile landing page that rewards the visitor for visiting the site is an important first step. This can be a page that provides a coupon that can be redeemed in-store or it can be a page that allows them to have a product shipped to their home address. It can be a click-to-call phone number that puts them in touch with a customer service representative, or it can be a map that provides them directions to your location. Make every attempt possible to leverage the intent of your visitor so that it ultimately converts into a sale.